Part II: How a Technical Writer Can Save You Money—The Hidden Costs of Outdated Technical

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The Hidden Costs of Outdated Technical DocumentationPart One of How a Technical Writer Can Save You Money discussed how a technical writer can reduce your help desk support. But another way a technical writer can save you money is by ensuring your documentation remains current. Outdated technical documentation can cut into your profit in many ways and, in extreme cases, can lead to the downfall of your business.

Negative Online Reviews

When looking to buy a new product, users often turn to online reviews to learn how others rate it. The recent surge in social media allows customers’ opinions to be shared faster than ever before. So the last thing you want is for your users to have a question about your product, turn to the documentation only to discover it’s outdated, and then vent their frustrations online. Frustrated users will leave poor reviews of your product or tell their friends to steer clear of your brand.

Increased Calls to Help Desk

When your documentation is outdated, users are unable to solve problems on their own. As a result, you get increased calls to your help desk. This, in turn, creates longer wait times for help, which leads to an increase in unhappy customers. In addition, as these unhappy customers take out their frustrations on your employees, it won’t be long before your employees leave in search of a better working environment, and your problems multiply.

Reputation or Brand Damage

When a customer is unable to locate current documentation for a product, it leaves a negative impression of your company. The customer may think your company is behind the times, question your competence, or even feel unappreciated or taken advantage of. This can lead to little or no repeat business, and you’ll likely lose the customer.

Hindrance to Company Growth

When users are unable to find help for their older products, they may feel like you are forcing them to upgrade to a newer version of the product. If the user disagrees with this philosophy and refuses to invest any more money, your competitor may benefit by gaining an additional sale.

Safety and Legal Issues

As discussed above, outdated technical documentation can lead to a host of problems. But nothing is more serious than causing physical harm to your customers. If the documentation is outdated, current safety information may be inaccurate or missing.  This could lead to a serious injury, which would no doubt land your business in an expensive and time-consuming legal battle. Some businesses may not be equipped to handle this battle, and may end up shutting their doors for good.